Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
(Zephaniah 3:1-2.9-13; Matthew 21:29-32)
A famous poem tells the story of an ancient emperor. Remnants of his statue is found in the desert giving his now unknown name, “Ozymandias” (the name of the poem as well). His epithet ironically reads that he is “King of Kings.” The poem means to warn people not to think too much of themselves. Yet they still do. Most people want their way whenever they can get it. They want to think of themselves as “King of Kings” at least in their little corner of the world.
The readings today point to a better, more honest way to live. In the first the Zephaniah prophesizes of the people whom God will allow to live in Israel. They will be humble and holy. Because they do no wrong, they can take refuge in God. In the gospel Jesus tells the leaders of Jerusalem that public sinners more likely will be heirs to this promise than they. He means to chastise people of power for lording it over the poor.
We should keep in mind what Christmas means. God is humbling Himself to live as a human. Indeed, he lives as the simplest of humans. He has no armory or treasury. He helps the poor and lame. To live the spirit of Christmas we must imitate the humility of Jesus.